|Nutrition Tips for Runners: What Runners Eat for Maximum Performance|
Whether you are a novice runner who simply enjoys outdoor jogging, or a competitive marathon athlete; endurance -based exercise like running requires individuals be very cognizant of their nutritional needs.
Although running may not seem as physically intense as activities like weightlifting or martial arts; runners of all levels need to be pay close attention to their diets, which includes enough vitamins and and minerals. Your quality of nutrition will ensure optimal performance and help you avoid overtraining – regardless of your running status (novice or professional).
Any exercise can place a lot of stress on the body, so it is important to focus on nutrition in order to optimize your recovery. Here is a quick overview of nutrition tips for runners.
Calories, Calories, Calories
First and foremost, calories are the most important aspect of nutrition for runners.
You need to take in enough calories (and that means quality calories) in order maintain your lean body muscle mass, support your immune system and build a solid foundation for your other important bodily functions.
Sometimes new runners make a huge mistake by restricting their total calories in order to lose excessive body fat. Some do this because they want to lose a few pounds to look better in jeans, while others believe that those extra pounds hinder their performance. And while running IS a great way to lose weight, you have to be aware of what you bodies needs and listen to the signals.
For example, did you know that if you don’t get enough protein while your training, you could actually start to lose muscle and see declines in your performance or lack the build-up of lean muscle mass that many people desire?
Extreme calorie cutting is unhealthy and can lead to muscular atrophy, limit the body’s immune system, and increase body inflammation. If you want lose some extra fat, think about adding in quality carbs and protein and “crowding out” the kind of processed and sugary foods that just don’t do you much good when you’re running.
Macronutrient Ratios: Fat, Protein and Carbs
Aside from calories, one of the most important nutrition tips that runners should consider is their macronutrient ratios. Eating the right amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrates is important in order to maintain leanness, sustain high energy levels, and facilitate rapid recovery from exercise. Running is a form of endurance exercise. So, runners will generally have a higher carbohydrate intake, ingesting anywhere between a minimum of one gram to a maximum of three grams of carbohydrates per pound they weigh.
Obviously, your level of training in terms of time and speed will dictate your carbohydrate intake, with higher amounts of carbohydrates being consumed on long and intense training days (i.e. preparing for marathon, 5k, 10k, etc).
For Fats and Proteins: Individuals should ideally consume anywhere between .8 to one gram of protein per pound that they weigh. This ideal protein level also varies depending on your training. Also, individuals should consume .25-.5 grams of good quality fat per pound that they weigh.
Food Quality: Keeping Close to Nature
When it comes to quality, the closer to nature you stay, the better. Food selection will play a critical role in nutrition for runners. Avoid eating processed foods such as refined sugars, deli meats, industrial vegetable cooking oils, carbonated beverages, and other forms of food that do not occur naturally. Stick with whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, health fats, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Another important aspect of nutrition for runners is Dietary Supplementation. It is virtually impossible to get 100 percent of one’s daily vitamin and mineral requirements from food. Exercise and perspiration drains the body of important electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Invest in supplements such as: a multivitamin, fish oil, BCAAs, whey protein, zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin D3.
Although there are many more nutrition tips for runners, these tend to be the most important things that runners should focus on in order to maintain great health and optimal running performance. We are continually learning more about sports nutrition and how it relates to sports performance. You can sign up to our newsletter below to get the latest nutrition tips for runners and other training tips.
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